Meet the Spirit-Slinging Competitors of Our Wine & Food Festival Bartender Shake-Off
Tom Cruise wishes he was as cool as these Westchester-based cocktail champions.
While many Wine & Food Fest visitors are happy to drop by the wine and spirit booths at our Burger & Beer Blast or our Grand Tasting Village, insiders know one of the best places to try craft cocktails is during our Taste & Style event on Wednesday, June 5 at the Bartender Shake-Off.
Five of Westchester’s top bartenders go head-to-head (to three other heads) in a knockdown, drag-out fight to see who can create the liveliest libation in the county. Judges this year include Jeanne Muchnick of LoHud, Tiffany Stacy of @BreakfastAteTiffany, Harrison Wine Vault owner Anthony D’Arpino, and local novelist and Food Network sensation Jess Tom.
Guests can also enjoy music, snacks from a selection of the county’s favorite eateries, and deals at more than two dozen of The Westchester’s participating retailers. Snag your tickets now (they will NOT be sold at the door!) and read on for a run-down of what you can expect to see at this year’s Shake-Off!
Westchester’s current “King of Cocktails” took home the trophy last year with his Pisco 1615 laden Latin Lover. A local Tarrytown resident, Ugarte frequently walks to work as RiverMarket’s beverage director.
“I believe that really this is a competition between some of the best bartenders in the country,” Ugarte says. “I am looking forward to meeting this year's group of outstanding Westchester mixologists. I know I have to raise the bar (no pun intended) from last year's competition to give my best to retain my title.”
Photo courtesy of iron vine
Iron Vine, Peekskill
The new GM of Iron Vine has completely revamped the popular restaurant’s cocktail program with a dash of Astoria flair and a globalist perspective when it comes to the house’s wine selection. The Blue Point, Long Island native is confident when it comes to performing in front of a crowd, having appeared on both Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and Man Vs. Food.
What’s he thinking for this year’s cocktail? “I recently just got back form Costa Rica so I'd like to take some flavors that I tasted over there and incorporate them into my cocktails.”
Photo courtesy of Nicole Eusini
NoMa Social, New Rochelle
Remember what they say about big things in small packages. This 5’2” Queens native describes herself as “feisty” and “Italian” with the 100% emoji.
“I did my research on the liquor and I have a better understanding of where it comes from and how it’s made,” she says. “I’m here to have the best time of my life , but most importantly I’m here to win!”
NoMa Social’s champion is also fast on her feet when it comes to creativity, boasting a 90% success rate on improvised drink recipes.
Photo courtesy of Saints & Scholars
Saints & Scholars, Yonkers
The Irish Rose of Shake-Off, Miss Quinn hails from Derry, Ireland. (That’s “Londonderry” for you unionists.) Quinn’s put her creation through rigorous taste-tests with friends, family, and regulars at the public house, and has thoroughly gotten its preparation down to a science.
Asked to describe her bartending style, Quinn says simply, “Heavyweight,” and then lists her extracurricular hobbies as “Drinking, eating, and wine tasting — I am Irish, after all.”
Photo courtesy of William Brembs
TreDici North, Purchase
The Restaurant and Bar Manager for this Best of Westchester winner credits TreDici North’s exceptional team with helping him to excel. “I work with one of the most talented chefs, Giuseppe Fanelli, so the expectations are very high and you constantly have to push yourself to get better.”
“I played sports my whole life I thrive on competition,” Brembs says.
Check out all of the competitors and their tasty creations on Wednesday, June 5 at Wine & Food Fest’s Taste & Style, happening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Savor in The Westchester. Tickets and more information for all our Wine & Food Fest events can be found here.